AUSTIN (KXAN) — The City of Austin recently raised its minimum wage from $15 to $20 per hour.
This 33% pay bump also includes any contract employees that work with the City of Austin.
At the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, several food service and retail workers recently received raises.
Their employer is the Delaware North Company, one of the companies contracted with the airport. Operating several restaurants and retail stores within the Barbara Jordan Terminal, DNC was the first to bring its employees up to Austin’s new minimum wage.
One of these workers is retail employee Josette Ayala.
“It went up from $16 to $20,” she said. “We saw the change on our paychecks and it helped a lot.”
Ayala has been working at the airport for over four years. She says the cost of living in Austin has climbed through the years.
“Everything keeps going up, my rent just went up $200 more,” Ayala said.
This annual pay bump of over $8,000 reflects the city’s new minimum wage requirement.
The effort was spearheaded by Austin City Councilwoman Vanessa Fuentes in the fall.
“We had workers on government assistance programs, who were living paycheck to paycheck, and some are even having to make those tough decisions between paying rent or paying or groceries,” Fuentes said.
She says this increase is setting a citywide standard.
“When an employer like the City of Austin raises the wage, it has a regional impact because other entities are wanting to remain competitive and wanting to ensure that they can attract employees,” Fuentes explained.
For Ayala, a mother of three, this wage raise allows her to plan a brighter future for her family.
<Josette Ayala, Austin Airport Retail Employee>
“[It will] help me catch up on some bills that I had, or even to save money because, like I said, I live in apartments and I want to save for a house,” Ayala said.
Even with the 33% increase from the previous minimum wage of $15 per hour, councilmember Fuentes says its still not enough.
She hopes to eventually raise the minimum wage to $22.